Every morning over my cup of dark roast I’m reminded of Kaldi, the goatherd who first discovered the miraculous properties of coffee in what we now call Ethiopia. I feel like I owe him my thanks, and I’m sure that a good chunk of the population would feel the same way if they knew his name and his story.
The story goes that while his goats were grazing in the mountains, Kaldi fell asleep. When he woke up, he saw that his goats had wandered off, and upon finding them it’s said that they were acting strange, even appearing to dance. Concerned, Kaldi watched the goats and attributed their strange behavior to some unfamiliar berries they had been eating. After realizing there was no serious danger, Kaldi became curious of this plant that had caused his goats to jitterbug across a mountain meadow, and soon found himself dancing from the strange berries. It is here that some versions say he encountered a holy man that questioned him as to why he was dancing with a goat; but other versions say he brought the plant home and gave it to his father who in turn brought it to a holy man. Either way, coffee was destined to become an important part of world markets and culture.
The mountains of Ethiopia have an ideal climate for coffee, and they have made the most of it. Ethiopia is still a major participator in the coffee market; today it is the 7th major coffee producing country in the world and ranks 2nd in African coffee exports. Out of all the coffee that is grown, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe is considered to be the cream of the crop in Ethiopia. It is grown organically by tradition, and has a floral hint with a smooth mellow finish.
I wonder if while Kaldi was in the grips of his first caffeine buzz, he had any sense as the incredible product coffee would become, that one day people all over the world would be enjoying the benefits of the strange berry he found so high in the mountains. So, caffeine addicts and coffee lovers everywhere, you now have a name you can attach to the discovery of coffee; thank goodness for Kaldi.